At a press conference at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, located in the Barshop Jewish Community Center, members of the Jewish community gathered to celebrate a $15,000 grant from AT&T to support educational programs at the museum. The programs help educate schoolchildren all over San Antonio on the Holocaust and urges them to stand up to prejudice and hatred.
City Councilman Joe Krier (D9) was absent, but had a statement read at the press conference, in which he praised the work that the center does for the community.
“I am enormously proud of the work in strengthening our community through educational programs,” Krier said. “Every day, you help educate people, particularly those who are from diverse backgrounds, on the impact of words, action, and inaction.”
He added that the grant from AT&T helps the museum honor the victims of the Holocaust and their legacy.
Ronit Sherwin, CEO of the Jewish Federation of San Antonio, said that the grant helps the museum continue a vital service to the community.
“The Jewish Federation has been actively involved in Holocaust education in San Antonio since the ’70s,” Sherwin explained. “Our education program began with a small, enlightened group of volunteer educators who went out into our schools to teach the lessons of the Holocaust, often bringing a survivor with them.”
Sherwin said that the size of the education program has grown exponentially since then, as a dedicated permanent staff as well as docents provide a community service to the children of San Antonio.
“Over 70 years out from the end of World War II, humanity has not yet learned the atrocities of the Holocaust,” Sherwin said. “Genocides have since and are still taking place in our world today. Innocent refugees are caught in the ugliness of politics and left homeless. And vitriolic hate speech fills our news sources every hour.”
Renée Flores, regional vice president of external affairs at AT&T, said that understanding the lessons of the Holocaust is critical to the country and its future.
“The lessons are stark and they are real,” Flores said. “This museum is dedicated to educating the community about the dangers of hatred, prejudice, and apathy that lurk at every corner in our society.”
Flores added that the curriculum that AT&T is supporting aims to combat these dangers.
Councilman Ron Nirenberg (D8) recounted his Jewish descent and stressed just how important Holocaust education is to any community.
“I’d like to think my grandfather, Bernard Israel Nirenberg, who my son is named after, would be very proud of me for being here today,” he said. “He was one of the lucky ones. He and his wife met at Ellis Island, having left Russia and Poland before the war broke out.”
He added that the center and the museum are a vital tool for teaching in the community.
“What they teach in this facility is extraordinarily important and very astute for the world we live in today,” Nirenberg said. “It’s helping educate the San Antonio Community, particularly our students, on the dangers of bullying. We see bullying in our schools, on the playgrounds, and on national stages. And it’s not okay to stand by.”
Anna Rado, a Holocaust survivor, said that the ability to tell her story of survival is what she is most grateful for.
“I’m so honored when the children come and they get so emotional when I share my story,” Rado said. “My main thing is to tell them ‘Don’t hate,’ because hate is poison.”
After the press conference, Holocaust Museum Director Ellen Ollervidez told the Rivard Report which programs AT&T’s grant will be used for.
“Right now, we are working on creating a virtual learning tool in which our docents can now train remotely so they can begin to understand the political, economic, and social conditions that led to the Holocaust,” Ollervidez explained. “Then, using that information, they will build on their knowledge and come in-house for hands on training.”